You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

The Real Scandal: Who Approved Harman's Wiretap?

It's pretty clear that there is nothing to the accusations about Jane Harman, neither about demanding a quid pro quo for helping the indicted ex-AIPAC employees nor actually doing anything for the two at all. Apparently, the Obama Justice Department is about to drop the spying charges brought against them during the Bush administration anyway. The espionage that they were supposed to have committed turns out not to be espionage but rather casual talk on insignificant topics with people friendly to the United States. Thwarted prosecutors can always assuage their frustrations by leaking half-truths to a gullible or over-hungry press, and this is what they have done.

But there is one aspect to this scandal that has not been adequately noted, and it is this: The United States constitution is structured around the separation of powers. The fact that the National Security Agency actually wire-tapped a sitting member of Congress--a member of the House of Representatives and chair of the subcommittee within whose purview the N.S.A. comes--is a scandal of the deepest resonance. Except it has not resonated at all. Who approved this tap?